Jason Marquis hurls shutout for Nationals

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Yes, that Jason Marquis.

After going 2-9 with a 6.60 ERA in the first year of his two-year, $15 million contract with the Nationals, Marquis has opened 2011 with a bang, turning in five straight quality starts on his way to a 3-0 record.  His ERA stands at 2.71.

Tonight’s win was the most impressive of the bench, as he outdueled Tim Lincecum and pitched his fourth career shutout against the defending world champion Giants.  He struck out seven and walked none in the crisp 96-pitch outing.

Earlier this month, he fanned nine in six innings against the Mets, his high strikeout total since way back in 2004.

The Nationals still might not be going anywhere this year, but if this keeps up, Marquis is going to be an awfully nice piece of trade bait at the deadline.  No, he’s not someone any team will want starting Game 1 of a postseason series, but since it looks like last year’s elbow problems are completely in the past, he’s a nice innings eater.

Video: Jaime Garcia hits a 399-foot grand slam

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Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.

The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.

Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.

As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:

Ryon Healy exits game after taking a ground ball to the face

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Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.

Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.

Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.